I’ve written previously about how using rewards to motivate kids’ behavior can be a lifesaving tool in training your children. I love this topic and want to talk further about setting up rewards for your kids.
Keep in mind that what motivates one child may not necessarily be motivating for the next. So I love to find out what each child’s ways of giving and receiving love are. It’s a great way to differentiate rewards for each child. This is the beauty of setting up reward systems for each child: determining behaviors that need reinforced in individual kids as well as varying the rewards for each child.
A younger child needs rewarded very close to the time of the desired behavior. As he ages, he can begin to build up stars, stickers, or coins for a larger reward. Here are some examples of both types of rewards:
Toddlers and preschoolers:
- A chocolate chip or M&M
- A penny or two
- A high-five
- Mints or Tic-Tacs
- Do a celebration dance
- Playtime with Mom
- Stars, beads, stickers, coins
- Toy from a treasure chest (Dollar Tree items)
- Stars, beads, stickers, points, coins
- Treat at home or out (ice cream, lunch, other treat)
- Time with friends
- Trip to the park
- Gifts: new toothbrush, hairbow, etc
- Time with Mom: playing a game, having tea, digital game, art activity,
- Read a book to them
- TV show or video
- Campout in the living room or backyard
- Go to a special event
- Time on computer, ipod or game station
- Breakfast in bed
- Choosing dinner for the family
- Stay up past bedtime (or other privilege)
- Getting to have a friend over
- Trip to the Dollar Tree
- “Kid of the Day” special privileges and off all responsibilities
- Have breakfast in bed
- Choose a new cereal, dessert, or snack for the family
- Watch a special show
You can also have individual reward charts where each child is working toward a family day trip to a theme park, water park, museum or the like. It’s great to see the cooperation between siblings when they are all working for a joint goal.
A Few Reminders For Using Rewards
- Build habits. Use rewards until the desired behavior is a habit, then switch to verbal praise and give rewards for a new behavior instead.
Use your words, too! Along with the reward, be sure to praise your child for what he has done. For some children, your praise means even more than the reward! It’s good also to generalize the behavior to the child’s future: e.g., “Susan, I love the way you teach your brother! I can see that you would be a great Sunday School teacher!”
Focus on behavior. Make sure to distinguish between the child and his behavior. When praising the child, focus the praise on what she accomplished, rather than saying what a “good girl” she was. Children should always be confident of a parent’s love independent of temporary behavior. The rewards and consequences are for the behavior, not because the child himself is deemed good or bad.
Age-appropriate. It is important to be reasonable with behaviors that are expected and those that are getting the rewards. Consider the age of the child and what he was capable of.
Properly motivating. Consider whether or not your rewards are fair. Giving too much of a reward causes the child to have too high an expectation for any behavior; giving too little may not be enough motivation to establish the behavior.
Using systems of rewards can be such a fun teaching tool. Having the ability to change your child’s behavior without nagging is an amazing way to make family life fun. And how much more memorable it is to be as positive and encouraging!
Question: How do you creatively use rewards to promote good behavior in your kids? Share your answer in the comments below.